Spoleto Festival USA
Spoleto Festival USA in Charleston, South Carolina
Charleston, South Carolina
Charleston is the second largest city in the U.S. state of South Carolina. It was made the county seat of Charleston County in 1901 when Charleston County was founded. The city's original name was Charles Towne in 1670, and it moved to its present location from a location on the west bank of the...

, is one of the world's major performing arts festivals. It was founded in 1977 by Pulitzer Prize
Pulitzer Prize
The Pulitzer Prize is a U.S. award for achievements in newspaper and online journalism, literature and musical composition. It was established by American publisher Joseph Pulitzer and is administered by Columbia University in New York City...

-winning composer Gian Carlo Menotti
Gian Carlo Menotti
Gian Carlo Menotti was an Italian-American composer and librettist. Although he often referred to himself as an American composer, he kept his Italian citizenship. He wrote the classic Christmas opera, Amahl and the Night Visitors, among about two dozen other operas intended to appeal to popular...

, who sought to establish a counterpart to the Festival dei Due Mondi
Festival dei Due Mondi
The Festival dei Due Mondi ' is an annual summer music and opera festival held each June to early July in Spoleto, Italy, since its founding by composer Gian Carlo Menotti in 1958...

 (the Festival of Two Worlds) in Spoleto
Spoleto is an ancient city in the Italian province of Perugia in east central Umbria on a foothill of the Apennines. It is S. of Trevi, N. of Terni, SE of Perugia; SE of Florence; and N of Rome.-History:...

, Italy
Italy , officially the Italian Republic languages]] under the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages. In each of these, Italy's official name is as follows:;;;;;;;;), is a unitary parliamentary republic in South-Central Europe. To the north it borders France, Switzerland, Austria and...

. The annual 17-day event showcases both established and emerging artists in more than 120 performances of opera
Opera is an art form in which singers and musicians perform a dramatic work combining text and musical score, usually in a theatrical setting. Opera incorporates many of the elements of spoken theatre, such as acting, scenery, and costumes and sometimes includes dance...

, dance
Dance is an art form that generally refers to movement of the body, usually rhythmic and to music, used as a form of expression, social interaction or presented in a spiritual or performance setting....

, theater, classical music, and jazz
Jazz is a musical style that originated at the beginning of the 20th century in African American communities in the Southern United States. It was born out of a mix of African and European music traditions. From its early development until the present, jazz has incorporated music from 19th and 20th...


When Italian organizers planned an American festival, they searched for a city that would offer the charm of Spoleto, Italy, and also its wealth of theaters, churches, and other performance spaces. Charleston was selected as the ideal location.

The Festival's mission

One of the Festival's tenets is to provide young artists the opportunity to work with veteran directors, designers and performers. World-renowned artists who performed at Spoleto Festival USA early in their careers include Renée Fleming
Renée Fleming
Renée Fleming is an American soprano specializing in opera and lieder. Fleming has a full lyric soprano voice.Fleming has performed coloratura, lyric, and lighter spinto soprano repertoires. She has sung roles in Italian, German, French, Czech, and Russian, aside from her native English. She also...

, Emanuel Ax
Emanuel Ax
Emanuel Ax is a Grammy-winning American classical pianist. He is currently a teacher on the faculty of the Juilliard School. He is considered one of the best known concert pianists of the 21st century.-Early life:...

, Joshua Bell
Joshua Bell
Joshua David Bell is an American Grammy Award-winning violinist.-Childhood:Bell was born in Bloomington, Indiana, United States, the son of a psychologist and a therapist. Bell's father is the late Alan P...

, Jean-Yves Thibaudet
Jean-Yves Thibaudet
-Early life:Jean-Yves Thibaudet was born in Lyon, France, to non-professional musical parents. His father played the violin, and his mother, of German origin and a somewhat accomplished pianist herself, introduced the instrument to Jean-Yves....

 and Yo-Yo Ma
Yo-Yo Ma
Yo-Yo Ma is an American cellist, virtuoso, and orchestral composer. He has received multiple Grammy Awards, the National Medal of Arts in 2001 and the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2011...


Programming philosophy

Each year, Spoleto Festival USA produces its own operas, which are rarely performed masterpieces by well-known composers or traditional works presented in new ways, and also presents theater, dance and music ranging from classical to jazz. Since its inception, the Festival has presented 100 international premieres and 93 U.S. premieres, notably Creve Coeur
A Lovely Sunday for Creve Coeur
A Lovely Sunday for Creve Coeur is a one-act play with two scenes by Tennessee Williams.-Plot synopsis:Set in St. Louis in the mid-1930s, the play focuses on four women struggling for a sense of identity and independence. Dorothea, a deluded Blanche DuBois-like middle-aged civics teacher at the...

by Tennessee Williams
Tennessee Williams
Thomas Lanier "Tennessee" Williams III was an American writer who worked principally as a playwright in the American theater. He also wrote short stories, novels, poetry, essays, screenplays and a volume of memoirs...

 and The American Clock by Arthur Miller
Arthur Miller
Arthur Asher Miller was an American playwright and essayist. He was a prominent figure in American theatre, writing dramas that include plays such as All My Sons , Death of a Salesman , The Crucible , and A View from the Bridge .Miller was often in the public eye,...


The 2011 Spoleto Festival USA was held from May 27 to June 12.


The 2011 opera program offers audiences three productions of distinct style and subject. Richly woven with ritual and symbolism, Mozart’s operatic masterpiece The Magic Flute
The Magic Flute
The Magic Flute is an opera in two acts composed in 1791 by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart to a German libretto by Emanuel Schikaneder. The work is in the form of a Singspiel, a popular form that included both singing and spoken dialogue....

 is a profound look at man’s quest for love, wisdom, and virtue. Moshe Leiser and Patrice Caurier direct this most beloved of Mozart operas. Steven Sloane, former Festival music director, will conduct the Spoleto Festival USA Orchestra.

Émilie is revered Finnish composer Kaija Saariaho’s homage to larger-than-life Enlightenment-age scientist and femme extraordinaire Émilie du Châtelet. World-renowned soprano Elizabeth Futral
Elizabeth Futral
Elizabeth Futral is an American coloratura soprano who has won acclaim throughout the United States as well as in Europe, South America, and Japan....

 makes her Festival debut in this American premiere. The Spoleto Festival USA production will be directed by Marianne Weems, the artistic director of New York’s The Builders Association theater company. Émilie (opera)
Émilie (opera)
Émilie is an opera by Finnish composer Kaija Saariaho, to a libretto by Amin Maalouf, written in 2008. It premiered at the Opéra de Lyon on 1 March 2010 with Finnish soprano, Karita Mattila, in the title role, to whom the work is dedicated. The opera is based on the life and writings of Marquise...

 will be Weems’ debut opera production. John Kennedy, the Festival’s newly named Resident Conductor, will conduct the Spoleto Festival USA Orchestra.

And, in celebration of the centenary of the birth of Gian Carlo Menotti—Pulitzer Prize–winning composer and Festival founder—Spoleto presents one of Menotti’s most popular and compelling operas, The Medium
The Medium
The Medium is a short two-act dramatic opera with words and music by Gian Carlo Menotti. Commissioned by Columbia University, its first performance was there on 8 May 1946. The opera's first professional production was presented on a double bill with Menotti's The Telephone at the Heckscher...

. The Spoleto Festival USA production is directed and designed by John Pascoe (of last season’s acclaimed Flora, an Opera) with Artistic Director for Choral Activities Joseph Flummerfelt conducting the Spoleto Festival USA Orchestra.


The 2011 theater lineup features two major European ensembles. Ireland’s renowned Druid Theatre Company
Druid Theatre Company
The Druid Theatre Company, founded in Galway in 1975, was the first Irish professional theatre company to be established outside Dublin. The theatre company was founded by Garry Hynes, Marie Mullen and Mick Lally after the three had met and put on productions together while members of the...

 will make its Festival debut with its multi-award-winning production of The Cripple of Inishmaan
The Cripple of Inishmaan
The Cripple of Inishmaan is a dark comedy by Martin McDonagh who links the story to the real life filming of the documentary Man of Aran....

, written by Martin McDonagh
Martin McDonagh
Martin McDonagh is an Irish-British playwright, filmmaker, and screenwriter. Although he has lived in London his entire life, he is considered one of the most important living Irish playwrights.-Life:...

 and directed by Druid’s Tony Award–winning artistic director Garry Hynes
Garry Hynes
Garry Hynes is an Irish theatre director. She holds the distinction of being the first female to win the prestigious Tony Award for direction of a play.Hynes was born in Ballaghadereen, Roscommon County and educated at St...


And the highly innovative Cornwall (UK)-based Kneehigh Theatre
Kneehigh Theatre
Kneehigh Theatre is an international theatre company based in Cornwall, England.Kneehigh was started in 1980 by Mike Shepherd. Early productions were performed in village halls, marquees, cliff-tops and quarries...

 returns with The Red Shoes, a grisly retelling of the Hans Christian Andersen classic directed by Emma Rice.

Arresting New York voices will be heard in two solo theater shows: County of Kings: The Beautiful Struggle, features hip-hop theater artist Lemon Andersen (Lemon (poet)
Lemon (poet)
Lemon, born Andrew Andersen was born and raised in Brooklyn, New York City.Lemon is a critically acclaimed poet, spokenword artist, and actor. As a poet he has the most aired episodes on HBO's Def Poetry, eight times in six seasons, and was an original cast member of the TONY Award winning Russell...

 offering his version of the coming-of-age memoir in a jarring narrative. And downtown icon Edgar Oliver
Edgar Oliver
Edgar Oliver is an American stage and film actor, poet, performance artist and playwright. Born in Savannah, Georgia, he has lived and worked in New York City since 1977. He is considered a "legend" of the downtown New York theatre scene.-Career:...

 spins a fascinating tale of his decades in a decayed New York boarding house in East 10th Street: Self Portrait with Empty House.


Set in a modern-day Pentecostal church, The Gospel at Colonus is a radical reworking of Sophocles’ Oedipus at Colonus that seamlessly blends the agony of Greek tragedy with the ecstasy of American gospel music to profound effect. Conceived and directed by Lee Breuer
Lee Breuer
Lee Breuer is an American academic, educator, film maker, poet, lyricist, writer and stage director.-Work with Mabou Mines:Lee Breuer is a founding artistic director of Mabou Mines Theater Company in New York City, which he began in 1970 with colleagues Philip Glass, Ruth Maleczech, JoAnne...

 with music by Bob Telson
Bob Telson
Robert "Bob" Eria Telson is an American composer, songwriter, and pianist best known for his work in musical theater and film, for which he has received Tony, Pulitzer, and Academy Award nominations. He is currently living and working in Argentina.-Biography:Robert Eria Telson was born in Cannes,...



The 2011 dance series showcases Spain-based Corella Ballet, created two years ago by American Ballet Theatre star Ángel Corella
Angel Corella
Ángel Corella is a Spanish dancer, currently the Artistic Director and principal dancer of Corella Ballet Castilla Y León as well as principal dancer with American Ballet Theatre...

 and now claiming its place among Europe’s most exhilarating dance troupes.

Choreographer Emmanuèle Phuon presents Khmeropédies I & II and is helping to revive the nearly lost art of ancient Khmer dance while evolving it for the modern age.

Shen Wei Dance Arts further explores Cambodian culture, as well as that of Tibet and Shen’s native China, in the lyrical three-part series Re-Parts I, II, III.

And the innovative choreographer Jérôme Bel offers snapshots of renowned contemporary dancer Cédric Andrieux’s life in dance in an intimate visual autobiography that reveals the world of contemporary dance and the life of a performer.


Circa is making its Spoleto Festival debut in 2011. Directed by Yaron Lifschitz
Yaron Lifschitz
Yaron Lifschitz is an Australian theatre director most notable for his involvement in the circus arts. He has directed over 50 productions including mainstage theatre, physical theatre, large scale events and opera. He originally came from South Africa....

, Australia’s Circa combines acrobatics with contemporary choreography and humor. Featuring seven performers, Circa delivers intricate sequences with precision and aplomb.


Bank of America Chamber Music concerts will feature the traditional changing roster of artists and 11 programs performed twice daily in the historic Dock Street Theatre. Led by Director for Chamber Music Geoff Nuttall, esteemed musicians returning to the Festival in 2011 will include the St. Lawrence String Quartet, pianist Pedja Muzijevic, cellist Alisa Weilerstein
Alisa Weilerstein
Alisa Weilerstein is an American cellist. She was named a 2011 MacArthur Fellow.-Life and career:Weilerstein started playing the cello at age four. She made her debut at age 13 with the Cleveland Orchestra playing Tchaikovsky's Variations on a Rococo Theme. As a soloist she has performed with a...

, violist Hsin-Yun Huang, pianist Inon Barnatan, and clarinetist Todd Palmer. Accomplished newcomers to this year’s series include violist Carolyn Blackwell and oboist James Smith. Specific repertoire and artists will be announced at the first performance of each program.

Talented young American conductor James Gaffigan will make his Spoleto debut guest conducting the Spoleto Festival USA Orchestra in a concert of Richard Strauss’ Dance of the Seven Veils, Debussy's Fragments from the Martyrdom of Saint Sebastian, and Prokofiev's Symphony No. 5.

In another performance, the Spoleto Festival USA Orchestra will perform under the baton of Joseph Flummerfelt in an evening of Bernstein (Chichester Psalms), Brahms (Alto Rhapsody), and Bruckner (Te Deum) with the Westminster Choir and the Charleston Symphony Orchestra Chorus. The Westminster Choir will additionally offer their traditional a cappella concerts, conducted by Joe Miller, director of choral activities at Westminster Choir College.

Edgy fare can be found in late-night concerts by the larger than life performer, writer, and director Taylor Mac, who returns to Charleston with Comparison Is Violence or the Ziggy Stardust Meets Tiny Tim Songbook.

In another late-night run, Indie-pop darlings Dean Wareham and Britta Phillips (Dean and Britta
Dean and Britta
Dean & Britta is a musical duo consisting of Dean Wareham and Britta Phillips, both former members of Luna. Wareham had formed Luna in 1991 after leaving his first band, Galaxie 500. Phillips joined Luna in 2000, replacing bassist Justin Harwood.-History:...

) perform their original music live with a four-piece band beneath large-scale video projections of Warhol’s rarely seen silent-film portraits, his famous Screen Tests, in 13 Most Beautiful...Songs for Andy Warhol’s Screen Tests.

Multi–Grammy Award–winning Béla Fleck
Béla Fleck
Béla Anton Leoš Fleck is an American banjo player. Widely acknowledged as one of the world's most innovative and technically proficient banjo players, he is best known for his work with the bands New Grass Revival and Béla Fleck and the Flecktones.-Early life and career details:Fleck was born in...

 will perform with his Original Flecktones to freely cross the terrains of folk, bluegrass, funk, and jazz in search of fresh and exciting new music.

Newcomer Sarah Jarosz
Sarah Jarosz
Sarah Jarosz is a bluegrass multi-instrumentalist, singer and songwriter whose first CD, Song Up in Her Head, was released by Sugar Hill Records on June 16, 2009. She was nominated for a Grammy Award in the category of Best Country Instrumental Performance for the track "Mansinneedof" from that...

, who released her first CD, Song Up In Her Head, to critical acclaim and a Grammy nomination in 2009 at age 18, comes to the Festival following her time at the New England Conservatory of Music.
Resident Conductor John Kennedy’s thought-provoking Music in Time series will include the work of Émilie composer Kaija Saariaho
Kaija Saariaho
Kaija Saariaho is a Finnish composer.Kaija Saariaho studied composition in Helsinki, Freiburg and Paris, where she has lived since 1982. Her studies and research at IRCAM have had a major influence on her music and her characteristically luxuriant and mysterious textures are often created by...

 and Pulitzer Prize–winning composer Paul Moravec
Paul Moravec
Paul Moravec is an American composer and a University Professor at Adelphi University on Long Island, New York...


Intermezzi concerts will feature chamber ensembles from the Spoleto Festival USA Orchestra in performances to include Tchaikovsky’s Serenade for Strings, On an Overgrown Path by Leoš Janáček
Leoš Janácek
Leoš Janáček was a Czech composer, musical theorist, folklorist, publicist and teacher. He was inspired by Moravian and all Slavic folk music to create an original, modern musical style. Until 1895 he devoted himself mainly to folkloristic research and his early musical output was influenced by...

, and Haydn’s Symphony No. 6.
And the legendary Del McCoury Band
Del McCoury Band
The Del McCoury Band is a bluegrass band. Originally Del McCoury and the Dixie Pals with Del on guitar and his brother Jerry on bass, the band went through a number of changes until the 1980s when the band solidified its line-up, adding McCoury's sons, Ronnie and Robbie on mandolin and banjo,...

, 2010 Grammy Award nominees for best bluegrass album (Family Circle), will bring the 2011 Festival to a celebratory end at the Festival Finale.


The Wells Fargo Jazz series (formerly Wachovia Jazz) will showcase diverse musical styles, including Trombone Shorty & Orleans Avenue. Schooled in jazz from an early age Shorty has, in his own words, “found a way to make everything fit—the jazz, high-energy funk-rock, and a little hip-hop.” Shorty was nominated for a 2010 Grammy Award for best contemporary jazz album (Backatown
Backatown is an album released by jazz musician Troy 'Trombone Shorty' Andrews. The album was released in 2010 on Verve Forecast Records and was produced by Galactic's Ben Ellman...


Two acclaimed jazz vocalists will be returning to Spoleto as headliners: four-time Grammy Award winner Dianne Reeves
Dianne Reeves
Dianne Reeves is an American jazz singer. She currently lives in Denver, Colorado.-Early life:Reeves was born in Detroit, Michigan to a very musical family. Her father, who died when she was two years old, was also a singer. Her mother, Vada Swanson, played trumpet. A cousin, George Duke, is a...

, recognized as one of jazz’s preeminent vocalists; and the musically fearless Karrin Allyson
Karrin Allyson
Karrin Allyson is an American jazz vocalist. She has been nominated for three Grammy Awards, and has received positive reviews from several prominent sources, including The New York Times, which has called her a "singer with a feline touch and impeccable intonation."-Career:Allyson grew up in...

, called “one of the world’s finest” by the Los Angeles Times.

Featured instrumentalists from around the world will include acclaimed Norwegian pianist Ketil Bjørnstad
Ketil Bjørnstad
Ketil Bjørnstad is a Norwegian pianist and composer. Initially trained as a classical pianist, Bjørnstad discovered jazz at an early age and has embraced the emergence of "European jazz"....

; Toninho Ferragutti, a Brazilian accordionist who blends the tradition of the accordion with the world of chamber music; and Italian pianist Danilo Rea
Danilo Rea
Danilo Rea is an Italian jazz pianist. Born in Vicenza, Italy in 1957. He is a graduate of the Santa Cecilia music conservatory in Rome. He made his debut with Rome Trio in 1975....

, who combines melodies of diverse sources into lyrical new music. The series will be rounded out by one of Argentina’s most respected jazz duos, bassist Willy González and vocalist Micaela Vita.


Italian miniaturist and photographer Paolo Ventura invents scenes from the memory banks of an old circus performer looking back on his life in the series of photographs entitled Winter Stories. In a partnership between Spoleto and the Halsey Institute of Contemporary Art, Ventura’s miniatures will be displayed alongside their photographed images, evoking the melancholy of an earlier era while remaining timeless in their ability to resonate with contemporary audiences.

Piccolo Spoleto

The official companion festival to Spoleto Festival USA, is operated by the City of Charleston Office of Cultural Affairs. Whereas Spoleto Festival USA features artists and performers of national and international renown, Piccolo Spoleto highlights outstanding local and regional artists with several hundred performances throughout the city. Piccolo Spoleto is "the perfect complement to the international scope of its parent festival and its 700 events in 17 days transform Charleston into an exhilarating celebration of performing, literary and visual arts."

External links

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